From the Jesus People to the Children of God – We Failed You

So much potential – 20 somethings in the middle of the so-called “Jesus Movement” of the early 1970s. We had the Word, we had the passion, we had the dreams, we had the music, most of all we had Jesus and He had us. We were going to change the world! So, what happened? What happened to our passion, our dreams, our hope for a new tomorrow? Where did it all go wrong?

More than 40 years later and all I can do right now is apologize. From the Jesus People of the ’70s to the Children of God of the 21st century – we failed you, miserably.

40 years is a long time, plenty of time to get things right; plenty of time to see a generation of God’s people turn the world upside down. The 1st century believers turned their world upside down in a lot less time than that. Why couldn’t we?

I will admit a great deal of sadness as I write this. I remember how exciting it was to be part of a movement of God to bring our nation back to Him and to see millions of lost people rescued in the Name of the Lord. As I think back through all the years of so many young Christians praying, worshiping, teaching, preaching, sharing, weeping – I wonder why. Why didn’t we see our nation turn to God? Why didn’t we see millions of lost people rescued in the Name of the Lord? Is Satan too powerful? Is God too weak?

Would you be surprised if I told you the reason we haven’t seen a powerful movement of God in our nation for more than 40 years is because of the young Christians of the ’70s? Well, don’t be. We are to blame. We had 40 years to make a difference and we didn’t do it. We couldn’t wait to get old enough to preach from the pulpit, teach the class, run the church. Well, we had our chance and we messed up, really messed up. And now we’re handing over what’s left to the young people of our churches, who are still in church.

75% of teenagers in American churches leave their church when they graduate from high school and don’t attend another church. Very few of them ever attend church again. These are the kids who grew up in the church, made professions of faith in the church, sang in the church, prayed in the church. These are our kids, who grew up in our homes, watched us live out the Christian life in front of them, and they chose to leave. How pathetic we are.

I think back to another group of young Christians living during the ’60s and ’70s of the 1st Century of the Church. They had the Word, they had the passion, they had the dreams, they had the music, they had Christ’s apostles teaching them, they had Jesus and He had them. God called them to turn their world upside down with the message of His love and grace, but most of them failed their generation – just like we have. What did they leave for their children?

It’s not like Jesus didn’t warn them. Toward the end of the 1st century, Jesus dictated letters to the Apostle John to send to seven of His churches. Jesus spoke directly, honestly and powerfully to the leaders and members of those churches.

He told them they had “left” their first love, Him; they had compromised His Message; they had put stumbling blocks in the path of people coming to Him; they had tolerated sexual immorality in the church and eaten food sacrificed to idols; even though they pretended to be busy in service to Him, they were dead; they had defiled themselves instead of living a life of holiness; they made Him sick and He wanted to vomit them out of His mouth; and even though they saw themselves as rich and in need of nothing, they were really wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.

Do you see any difference between the 20 somethings of the 1st century and those of us who came of age in the 20th century? Haven’t we also left our first love? Haven’t we compromised His Message? Haven’t we put stumbling blocks in the path of people coming to Him? Haven’t we tolerated sexual immorality in the church? Haven’t we eaten food sacrificed to idols by indulging ourselves in the things of this world? We pretend to be so busy serving God, but isn’t our service to Him really dead? Haven’t we defiled ourselves by living unholy lives? Don’t we make Jesus sick to the point where He wants to vomit us out of His mouth? Don’t we think of ourselves as rich and in need of nothing when we’re really wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked? Do we honestly expect God to bless us and answer our prayers when we have disobeyed Him for so long?

I don’t. I have no reason to expect God to bless us and answer our prayers, except for one thing – His love, mercy and grace.

“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:18-22

For those of us who were 20 somethings in the Church 40 years, that’s our only hope. If we’re not willing to obey our Lord this time, our time to make a difference is done.

Children of God, you can learn something from us. Don’t do what we did. Don’t look to us for an example because we’re not it. Look to Jesus, listen to what He says, and do it. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking you can do Church any other way than the way Jesus says. Remember, He’s the One building His Church. If God is merciful and gives you 20 something Christians 40 years to make a difference, thank Him for the time and do it right. We need you.

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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6 thoughts on “From the Jesus People to the Children of God – We Failed You

  1. You are absolutely right. I am guilty of not doing nothing, at the age of 66, just found real truth from grace life, in the last year, I haven’t done nothing, I am so sorry Jesus, please forgive me, I wish I found truth years ago, but with your Grace Mercy, and the time I have left, I won’t fail you again…

  2. Thank for your candidness. God is a God so very full of grace. Your days are far from finished. Your work is not yet complete. Your faithful obedience now inspires me to my own faithfulness.

    Thank you for your faith, your ministry, your devotion to King Jesus.

  3. Unfortunately the Jesus Movement was NOT a move of God.
    Did some radical things happen in the JM??? Yes.
    Those radical things happened because the Jesus people returned to simply teaching the WORD OF GOD.
    Preaching ruled the day before that and pastors cherry picked scripture to support their pet theologies or to attack the flock… TEACHING was a breath of fresh air.
    The WORD OF GOD is powerful… it is ALIVE.

    If you research the roots of the Jesus Movement you’ll find it was started by nefariously motivated CHANGE AGENTS.
    Moses Berg and the Children of God???
    THAT is where the term THE MOSES MODEL come from….used by Calvary Chapel to justify dictatorial “churches”.
    You will find many cloaked Roman Catholics among the early CC pastors.
    It is a very very interesting study….. but if you blog on this ……. keep looking over your shoulder.
    You will find you have drawn stalkers.

    Most Calvary Chapels are simply FRANCHISES that are designed to enrich the pastors family and there is NO accountability…. NONE.
    And if they want to do a Matthew 18 reconciliation on you…. just know that you will be ambushed by several male staff or “board members” ….and in a few cases… among the ambushees will be one or two PACKING HEAT!

    But I agree OP… we did not change things for the better.
    Calvary Chapel and similar JM churches were beta testing for the Emergent Church Movement that 80% of todays “American Christians” attend.
    The EC movement is nothing more than Paganism with Jesus Jargon… and most of them are returning the members to the RCC…. certainly not a surprise is it??
    Considering the high number of RCC leaders embedded in those JM churches back in the day.

    • Hi, Bryce. I am familiar with your concerns. I became a Christian at the time the so-called Jesus Movement had an explosive growth in the early 1970s. My use of the term was for historical identification purposes. I am currently writing a series about the Emerging/Emergent Church unity movement and will look at the New Apostolic Reformation unity movement after that. Thanks! Mark

  4. I’ll watch for your series.
    I find this a very fascinating piece of recent church history.
    If you research and discuss Calvary Chapel I hope you look into the very very first youth pastor that Chuck Smith had.
    The man who introduced Lonnie Frisbee to Chuck while dating Chuck’s daughter.
    This was the only mention of him in “HARVEST” by Chuck.
    Then ask yourself why he is not mentioned by the founder of the biggest Jesus Movement Organization of that era that has survived and thrived into the 21st Century.

    The man I speak of has bragged that “they” tried to pay him money to teach them how he was able to lead so many so successfully (for a time) with his Jesus Movement Commune named Shilo. (I called it a Slickmeister Slave Camp)
    Those methods were copied then honed into the Emerging Church Model…. with a change to a Jesus Jargon Pagan theology via the Hegelian Dialectic.

    As I said, don’t be surprised if you don’t pick up some stalkers if you slip down that rabbit hole.
    May the Lord richly bless you and protect you in your work.
    Peace?
    Or Armour Up?
    Which time is it?

    PS: Maybe your research could tell us if it is true that THE MOSES MODEL cliche was gleaned from David Moses Berg’s work.
    After all… they all started out in Hunting Beach did they not?

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